At the official launch of the book Farnham - Images from the Maxwell Estate in Cavan County Museum were (from Left) Savina Donohoe, from the museum; Diana Lady Farnham, Joe McLoughlin, director of services at Cavan County Council; Cllr. Dessie Boylan, council chairman; and Dr. Brendan Scott.

Unique family photo collection launched

The publication of a collection of photographs depicting the life of the Maxwell family – from whom the Barons Farnham were descended – attracted a large audience to Cavan County Museum on November 4. The launch of the book, edited by Brendan Scott, lecturer at NUI Maynooth, was performed by Lady Diana Farnham, wife of the late Barry Owen Somerville Maxwell, 12th Lord Farnham, who was accompanied by her daughter Sophie. It was the late Lord Farnham and his wife who first donated material from Farnham House to the County Museum, gifts which Lady Farnham continued following the death of her husband in 2001. Both she and the executors of the Farnham estate have given the museum and this project great support and assistance. Lady Diana and Simon Kenlis Maxwell, the current Lord Farnham, assisted in the identification of various people and places. There was tremendous interest in the quality of the photographs and the lineage of the Maxwell family from John Maxwell, the first Baron Farnham, 1756, to the present one, Simon Kenlis Maxwell, 13th Baron Maxwell 2001. The attendance at the launch included Bishop Ken Clarke; Archdeacon George Miller, Canon Mark Lidwill, Fr Liam Kelly, PP Crosskeys; chairman of Cavan County Council, Cllr. Dessie Boylan; Joe McLoughlin, director of services, Cavan County Council and district justice, Sean MacBride. Savina Donohoe of Cavan County Museum said the extensive Farnham archive, which is held in the museum, ranges from large portraits hanging on the stairwell to the memorabilia on display in the Farnham Gallery. There is also a large collection of Farnham memorabilia in the museum archive. She said the collection of Farnham related material was important to the museum and was one of the largest donations it had ever received. Cllr. Dessie Boylan welcomed Lady Farnham and her daughter Sophie, who had travelled from London for the occasion. He also welcomed neighbours and friends from the Farnham area. He said he wished to place on record the contribution of Lady Farnham and her late husband to the museum's collection through their generous donation of artefacts, portraits and financial contribution towards the restoration of the Farnham memorabilia. The donation of valuable books from the Farnham library to Johnston Central Library was also welcome and greatly appreciated. Cllr. Boylan said Lady Farnham had shown continued interest in the wellbeing of the museum and was in regular communication with the staff there as well as her interest in the museum's programme of events. He paid tribute to the book's editor Dr. Brendan Scott and those who had assisted in its publication. The Big House Dr. Scott said the study of the big house in Irish history had been a gradual process over the last 20 years or so. “Such is the level of interest in the study of the big house, that Dr. Terry Dooley, a colleague at NUI, had written a guide for those interested in studying the topic further,†he said. “A research centre for the study of the house in Irish history called the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates has also been established at NUI Maynooth.†Dr. Scott said that at local level the Breifne journal had recently published a great deal of work dealing with landlords and their estates in the Cavan and Leitrim region, and studies published in the past six years dealt with the Kilbrackens of Killegar, the Saundersons of Cloverhill and the Farnhams. He said a massive volume of work dealing with the Clements family, who had interests in Leitrim, Cootehill and elsewhere throughout the region, was published last month. He also looked forward to the publication of Dr. Jonathan Cherry's seminal thesis on the Farnham estate. Dr. Scott said the fact that new opportunities for the study of landlordism in Cavan continue to come to light was evidenced in the recent discovery of rent books belonging to Lord Annesley which are now held in the Johnston Central Library. Dr. Scott said the study of photographs in local history had also progressed. They in Cavan were fortunate to have Ireland's most foremost expert in the use of photography in local history, Fr. Liam Kelly, who has recently written a guide on the use of photographs. This work, along with others, demonstrated just how important photographs can be in discovering the past. Lady Farnham thanked Cavan County Museum and those associated with the publication of the book and in particular editor Dr. Brendan Scott.